Invitation of the Predawn Moon
So it is still in the sky, only a little to the west. This is comforting,
Especially so, as last night I forgot its season was waxing.
Now, with a mug in hand, on the thirteenth floor,
I cannot dig a pool on the opposite balcony and invite it to there.
Clouds may bloom like rootless water lilies,
But this hand-mirror of milk under my nose is sluggishly opaque.
No matter how sternly I hold it up, I cannot tell
Who is within its ashes and filth.
Tonight, it will still shine, tomorrow night, still brighter,
If something is not to be brought back,
If common souls can take the mackerel sky with a grin
Or forget some days like this had been expected not to overcast or rain.
The moon can always be regarded as a high ideal, forever for the yet-to-come,
As one sits before a mirror, seeing eye to eye with the other
Until they both grow hoary and blind.
September 23, 2007
Today (September 25) is Chinese Mid-Autumn Festival (Moon-Cake Festival) (The 15th of the eighth lunar month), which is considred a day of family reunion as the full autumn/harvest month symbolizes perfectness (roundness and fullness).
The poem borrows some images from the following poems:
Walter Whitman: A Hand-Mirror
Hold it up sternly! See this it sends back! (Who is it? Is it you?)
Outside fair costume--within ashes and filth,
No more a flashing eye--no more a sonorous voice or springy step;
Now some slave's eye, voice, hands, step,
A drunkard's breath, unwholesome eater's face, venerealee's flesh,
Lungs rotting away piecemeal, stomach sour and cankerous,
Joints rheumatic, bowels clogged with abomination,
Blood circulating dark and poisonous streams,
Words babble, hearing and touch callous,
No brain, no heart left--no magnetism of sex;
Such, from one look in this looking-glass ere you go hence,
Such a result so soon--and from such a beginning!
My translation draft of 惠特曼《一把镜子》（大意）